Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Little Christmas

Today is the last day of twelve days of Christmas. It goes by various names - the Epiphany, Three Kings Day, Little Christmas. In many cultures, this is the traditional gift-giving day of the Christmas season, as this is the day commemorating the visit of the Three Kings to the Child Jesus. 

Star of Bethlehem, by Edward Burne-Jones, 19th c. has a whole page dedicated to traditional observances of the Epiphany.

Generally, the Wisemen are credited with leaving gifts, but in Italy, La Befana is said to do so. She was a good witch who provided lodgings for the Wisemen on their way to Bethlehem, They asked her to accompany them on remainder of the journey, but she declined, being too busy. She had a change of heart later on, however, and attempted to find the Child of Whom they had spoken.

La Befana the Christmas witch, said to walk or fly about Italy on her broom putting gifts in stockings or giving presents on Epiphany eve, January 5th, looking for the Christ child or her own or keeping watch over all children. She may be related to the Sabine/Roman Goddess Strenua who gave out New Years gifts:

My family has always celebrated Little Christmas. On Christmas morning, we all choose a gift to set aside for the Epiphany, and the Wisemen always come a leave another small gift or two as well. We have a dinner very similar to our Christmas dinner, and it is, in every way, a Little Christmas for us. It is rather a lovely way of keeping the spirit of the season throughout the entire season. 

It is rather late in the day to be posting this, I know, but this medley seems like a good way to end out the Long Christmas:

From the Propers of today's Mass: Alleluia, alleluia.We have seen His star in the East, and are come with gifts to adore the Lord. Alleluia.


Jack said...

I had so much fun getting to celebrate with your family!

Bella Rose said...

Okay, I did not know that cool story about Epiphany. Is that like, a real story, or is that a popular belief?? Either way it's cool.

Sorry I haven't commented in so long!